• Thursday, June 13, 2024


Kuttey will be compared to Kaminey, but Aasmaan has his own voice:Vishal Bhardwaj on son’s debut

Bhardwaj and singer-wife Rekha have co-produced Kuttey alongside Ankur Garg. It will hit the screens on Friday.

Vishal Bhardwaj (Photo by SUJIT JAISWAL/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Mohnish Singh

You don’t learn filmmaking on a set but from life, says Vishal Bhardwaj, who is a proud but anxious father ahead of son Aasmaan Bhardwaj’s directorial debut “Kuttey”, a film he knows will inevitably be compared to his 2009 hit “Kaminey”.

However, Bhardwaj — one of the most respected directors in Hindi cinema and famous for his Shakespearean trilogy of “Maqbool”, “Omkara” and “Haider” — is not bothered by the comparison. In fact, he would love to see a crossover between Aasmaan’s “Kuttey” and the Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra-starrer as both movies belong to the same caper genre.

“I was happy but at the same time, I was concerned because filmmaking is a stressful job. It’s a difficult profession,” said Bhardwaj, recalling the first time Aasmaan told him about his decision to follow in his footsteps.

“You have to manage so many people, from writing the script to finding the right actors and technicians. You are doing event management all the time. Whenever you get a little time, you try to realise your vision,” the filmmaker told PTI in a telephonic interview from Mumbai.

With a stellar cast in Naseeruddin Shah, Tabu, Konkona Sensharma, Arjun Kapoor, Radhika Madan and Kumud Mishra and a quirky title, “Kuttey” seems to have invited comparisons with Bhardwaj’s filmography.

The story revolves around three gangs who cross each other’s paths on a rainy night in the outskirts of Mumbai. What follows is bullets, blood and betrayal.

“I knew that the film was going to be compared to ‘Kaminey’ but Aasmaan has his own voice and I have my own voice…” he said.

Citing the examples of Guy Ritchie films such as “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch”, Bhardwaj said the only Indian titles he could recall in the caper genre are “Kaminey” and Abhinav Deo’s “Delhi Belly” (2011).

“Caper films are a tough genre to pull off. We can continue this genre and the next film that we make could be ‘Kuttey Kaminey’ where all these characters criss-cross. It would be so good to see Shahid, Tabu, Arjun, and all of them together in a movie.” The director, who has named one of his dogs after Irrfan Khan’s character of ‘Roohdar’ from “Haider”, said canines are the most loveable animals but the title of “Kuttey” has come from how the term is used colloquially in India.

“We have used ‘Kuttey’ in that context. Here, everybody is a dog and out there to deceive the other,” he added.

Some of the comparisons may also have to do with how “Dhan Te Nan”, the hit track from “Kaminey”, makes a comeback in “Kuttey” as “Phir Se Dhan Te Nan”.

Bhardwaj, 57, revealed he had written the song for a “Kaminey” follow-up that never came to fruition.

“I had made the song long back when I was working on a ‘Kaminey’ sequel. That film could not materialise but Aasmaan knew about the song and he asked to use it in the background of his film. I resisted but gave in to the director’s demand.” Bhardwaj said Aasmaan, who studied filmmaking from the School of Visual Arts in New York, had a fascination for cameras since his childhood.

Production designer Samir Chandra, who worked with him on films such as “Omkara” and “Kaminey”, crafted a wooden camera for his son. Aasmaan received his first video camera as a gift from Shah, he said.

A young Aasmaan, Bhardwaj recalled, would keep his wooden camera right next to the real camera to take the shot.

“But you don’t learn filmmaking on a set, you learn filmmaking from life. Filmmaking is a technical job that anybody can do, but portraying lives on celluloid, for that, you have to learn life. I am not worried about his craft. How much life he has learned, we are yet to see that.” The story of “Kuttey” was one of the three scripts that Aasmaan, who majored in screenwriting, wrote for his thesis at the film school. His son’s professor liked the story and when Bhardwaj read it, he too was impressed.

“That’s where I got involved as a co-writer and wrote the dialogues and additional screenplay.” Through Aasmaan, Bhardwaj could also recall the early part of his journey as a filmmaker.

“He (Aasmaan) is young and it’s his first film. In your first film, you are fearless, you are not stressed. That’s how I was. ‘Makdee’ was my first film but I would take ‘Maqbool’ as an example. I was fearless in ‘Maqbool’.” Asked whether there were any clashes between them, the director said it took some time but they eventually found a middle ground.

“When he started shooting his film, he started with the toughest scene possible… I kept telling him that ‘You should start with a simple sequence.’ As a parent, you can only warn. After shooting for four days, he came to me… After that, he started listening to me… He gradually realised he has to listen to me like a senior director or producer.” The cast of the film is a mini reunion of actors from Bhardwaj’s previous films “Maqbool”, “Omkara” and “Pataakha”. The director said he insisted that the actors come on board only if they like the script, not because it was his son’s debut.

“It was easy for Aasmaan to approach them but I told everyone ‘Don’t do this film because he is my son. You should listen to his script. If he gives you confidence as a director, do it only then’. Aasmaan used to go and narrate the script to everyone. Like Naseer bhai said ‘I know Aasmaan, I don’t need to read the script’, but I still insisted.” Credit for casting Tabu goes to Luv Ranjan, co-producer of “Kuttey”, he added. She plays a cop in the film, a part that was originally written for a male actor.

“It was Luv Ranjan’s idea that we change the gender of the character and bring in Tabu. I jumped on that. It’s a very colourful character. I approached Tabu and she loved the part but she asked, ‘Do you think I should be doing this kind of role, the language that I am speaking?’ It took her little time but when she came, she was on fire.” Bhardwaj and singer-wife Rekha have co-produced “Kuttey” alongside Ankur Garg. It will hit the screens on Friday.


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